4K Can Help European TV Broadcasters hold off “the new barbarians” According to France Télévisions

by on October 14, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – October 14th, 2014

The attendees at this year’s annual annual MIPCOM entertainment content conference held in Cannes, France in October of each year, have heard the latest on 4K from the major European media broadcasters and the verdict is that they will continue to experiment with the Ultra HD Resolution platform as a sort of defensive strategy against less capital rich new media entrants.

France Télévisions was particularly outspoken on the matter and promised to keep pushing in the direction of a VoD trial of 4K TV broadcasting for later in this year.

Director of future media for France Télévisions, Eric Scherer, speaking at a 4K panel session in Cannes on the 13th of October claimed that his employer was engaging in experiments with 4K as a hedge against the arrival of “the new barbarians” in digital broadcast media. With this reference, he was mainly aiming his remarks at companies like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime amongst others.

His comments were also specifically targeted at, as he described them, “Kids who are filming 4K and putting it on YouTube”.

According to Scherer, France Télévisions will be test piloting a new effort at VoD delivery of Ultra HD content right around the end of 2014. The French media company has already experimented with the 4K format by delivering coverage of the Roland Garros Tennis Tournament in Ultra HD to limited audiences.

The company has also conducted experiments with what is called hbbTV-based push VoD technology. hbbTV refers to the technology of hybrid broadcast broadband TV, which is a currently advancing standard for digital TV media via over web connections.

MIPCOM Hsoting discussions about 4K content

MIPCOM conference in Cannes where the European Broadcasters discussed their views on 4K content

France Télévisions’ latest 4K experiment will involve the download of content in quiet times such as overnight when bandwidth is less in demand, according to Scherer.

“We will test on IP platforms and with push content. We are not ready to launch a 4K channel” claimed Scherer. He also explains that France Télévisions will have to convince users to adopt the company’s 4K standards because they are still expensive and lack content.

The company’s future media director also claimed that he thinks 4K will become more successful than the now mostly defucnt 3DTV simply because consumers will want to really make the most of newly available equipment such as 4K cameras by using the 4K resolution format. The same logic applies to the new generations of laptop and PC screens that are also being released with 4K or even 5K screens.

Currently, according to Scherer, the costs of producing 4K still remain between 30 and 40% higher than those of creating Full HD content and that most of these costs are occupied by post-production expenses due to the greater difficulty of editing and post-producing 4K video footage.

Other European broadcasters such as Sky Deutschland also chimed in with their own positive views of 4K media. Sky Deutschland itself also explained that 4K needs to add more value in order to be successful enough to convince viewers of the medium. This value addition could come in the form of new and interesting content with a particular emphasis by Sky on sports broadcasts which really come to life under Ultra HD conditions.

Fundamentally, all of these companies need to experiment more quickly and in a more agile way so that they can get busy with actual broadcasts as soon as possible. This is because they are right, the “new barbarians” like Netflix and Amazon are indeed coming and they’re already moving past simply experimenting in the delivery of value with 4K. They already have content ready to go for web connected audiences and are regularly adding more.

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